Staying cool and being gentle with friends around - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-05-2010, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was ready to lose it today with DS (2.5). We had my BFF and her 2-yo DD over for a playdate. The kids, historically, have been wild beasts when they're together. It's nerve-wracking. I can't take the shrieking and the frenzy. DS is generally mellow, but not when he's with his friend.

Last week, BFF dropped her daughter off for a few hours so she could run some errands, and the kids were GREAT. No fighting, no screaming, all good. I thought, "Okay, they're starting to mellow out." Nope.

This morning, DS was a GREAT help, a good listener, etc. Til they got here. Then it was instant frenzy, and my nerves started to fray. Since the kids were restless, we decided it was time to hit the pool. Everyone was hot, the water was a great idea. They calmed down a little, but DS was still frenzied. I tried to talk to him, to remind him he needed to be a good listener, and to calm down. No go. He kept getting more violent and frenzied towards me each time I tried to get him to mellow out. So I decided to leave him alone and not nag him, until he started being outright MEAN to his friend (hitting, grabbing, etc. which, btw, is NOT his normal MO). I started to tell him to be nice, and he lashed out at me, and then flung his body off the step he was on, into the water!

He just sank right to the bottom of the pool, and it happened so fast my friend (who was right there) didn't even see it. She thought he just splashed me. I was able to grab him and haul him out of the pool, and had him sit in a chair to calm down. We were both scared, and by that point I just wanted to explode. Of course, yelling at him wouldn't have helped, he would not have understood the lecture of how dangerous it was to do what he did, but I have no idea how to get it through to him that when I tell him to chill, he NEEDS to chill, whether I ask him to go sit on a chair away from the activity, or to just take a deep breath and a pause in the action. (I had put him in "time out" out of the pool once or twice already, b/c he wasn't being nice, and he couldn't calm down b/c he wanted to be in the pool so badly. Normally it works under more boring conditions....)

I spend a lot of time telling him WHY he needs to be a good listener: Basically, b/c it's not safe not to be, but it's about being a good listener in the pool, in the bath, in the kitchen with me around sharp/hot things, in the gym/park/playground, etc. He gets it. He knows that we will stop whatever activity we're doing if he can't be a good listener. But I couldn't get through to him today, b/c he was SO crazy about his friend being there.

What am I supposed to do, send them home when they had been here less time than it took them to drive here and back? That punishes all of us. Make him stay in the house? That wouldn't be very calming for anyone. Never invite friends over since he's proven he can't behave with kids in the house? (He went insane when his other friends came over a few weeks ago, but I was hoping the novelty would wear off and he'd get over it.)

I'm really upset about this. It's one thing to accept that I'm going to have frayed nerves after a play date and I need to get over myself, but it's quite another to be so afraid that something really serious could happen b/c of this toddler madness. I'm already struggling to stay calm with all the shrieking, but to have him try to drown himself is a whole other level of worry.
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#2 of 10 Old 08-05-2010, 09:05 PM
 
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Wow, what a day that was! How scary! I have a son that gets crazy like you describe so I understand, but only age has helped him and only a little. We also have some different circumstances that won't apply to you.

The thing that sticks out to me about your story is that when the other mom wasn't there, they were well behaved. Could the other mom be an issue? Could it be either her personality or the fact that you two are chit-chatting and they get crazy with the lack of adult attention? I know that when I get together with a friend, I love having the adult time and can focus more on that than my child. Maybe they neen the two of you to play with them? Or maybe it's a jealousy thing? Or maybe it's a show-off thing? Did they have different foods on those days? Just some thoughts. Hopefully something makes sense, but if not, I feel your pain!!!
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#3 of 10 Old 08-06-2010, 03:29 AM
 
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I don't have any specific advice for the general question (the craziness with friends) but I would suspect it's age related and also part of friendly chatting/distractedness with the mom-friend. This is absolutely what happens to me at times like that.

I did want to mention a Dr. Sears strategy that has worked wonderfully for us. About the pool scenario, and the danger. So if DS does something like that (say, run into the street, or what have you), instead of fury, show and feel the fear. The mom-fear totally gets to kids. If DS does that, I sweep him up (forcefully, like really, he just ran into the street for heavens sake!) and carry him bodily to a safe location. Then I fuss really agitatedly about him being okay, checking him over and whatnot. I tell him how badly he scared mama and how much I would be sad and cry if something ever happened to him. I hold him and rock him, like I might have lost him.

All of this you probably did, but I play up the drama, just like I speak in really accentuated ways, because DS is barely three, and he needs it to be REALLY clear what's going on. Usually DS shows when he gets it, and he wells up when he realizes whats going on. I don't *know* what he's thinking, but I'm guessing it's either a. oh man I scared my mom and I feel awful or b. I narrowly escaped certain death and I'm scared. Either option is fine with me, because, bottom line, he should *NOT* be running into the street (or diving into the pool, or grabbing a knife off the cutting board, or opening a hot oven...).

With the hyper kids issue, I feel is a struggle but not so much as the diving in the pool, because of the danger factor. Hope this is helpful advice.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#4 of 10 Old 08-06-2010, 08:53 AM
 
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Perhaps having kids his age over is just too much for him at this point. If you and your friend want to get together I would just do it at a time when your DS can be with someone else.

Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS

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#5 of 10 Old 08-06-2010, 09:35 AM
 
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Have you all tried getting them together at a bounce house? We have a family of friends like that (as in we're friends with the couple and our DS's are friends) and our wild kids behave best and are least likely to get hurt or to bother one another at a bounce house, for whatever reasons.
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#6 of 10 Old 08-06-2010, 09:47 AM
 
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Have you tried being more involved during playdate, doing some cool craft together,painting, playing ball with the boys, etc?

Joanna WAHM to DS 10/2007
You must be the change you wish to see - Ghandi
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#7 of 10 Old 08-06-2010, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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All great advice, thank you!

It may well be the other mom factor. I'll have to offer to babysit and test that theory some more! We were NOT just sitting in lounge chairs, sipping margaritas while the kids were playing and in the pool. We were right there in arm's reach of them. DS had no interest whatsoever in interacting with me. He was all about his friend, and when I tried to play with him, he refused. So I don't know what else I could have done. When it was just me and the two kids last week, I didn't play with them; they entertained themselves and I only intervened when they were "too quiet" in another room or the few times they couldn't seem to share/take turns. Beyond that, they took care of each other for close to 3 hours.

So I'm not so sure it's about having the moms involved, although maybe it's just mom karma that means we can't have fun if our children are...

Crafts would equal disaster in our house with these two. Neither would sit for a project. Neither sits for TV for more than 5 minutes. It's like they are physically incapable of being calm when they're together. I know it's the age, but is this really how it would be if they were siblings? (We're contemplating a second, and I'm leaning towards no, b/c I just don't think I could be a good mom with that kind of chaos all day, every day. I'm struggling as it is not to yell to vent all my anxiety that builds up in the frenzy as it is...)
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#8 of 10 Old 08-07-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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Overstimulation is hard My 3.5 yr old has no interest in listening, so I dont know when it gets better.

Do you have a Monkey Joes nearby? You can let them loose in the toddler section and you and your friend can sit and chat! That place is the best!
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#9 of 10 Old 08-07-2010, 12:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MovnMama View Post
I did want to mention a Dr. Sears strategy that has worked wonderfully for us. About the pool scenario, and the danger. So if DS does something like that (say, run into the street, or what have you), instead of fury, show and feel the fear. The mom-fear totally gets to kids.
Yep - they tune in to our fear. My kids have always been really sensitive to my fear. My fear will stop them in their tracks. Anger will not.

I also think that you are expecting too much of a 2 year old. He's TWO. Yes, he's verbal but two year olds are still very physical learners. They have great difficulty with impulse control, especially when they're really excited. I think it will help to see this not as willful misbehavior but as pure overstimulation. He could not calm down without your help. And talking wasn't helping.

When my kids did what your son was doing, I removed them from the situation and sat down with them or walked around until they calmed down. My getting irritated because they were getting overexcited just wound them up more. BTDT. I had to learn to gently remove them for a few minutes.

Generally, less talk and more action works. "Stop, hot!" is much more effective than a paragraph. Also, try telling him what to do in very specific terms. When my kids were that age, I gave them a special place to stand when I was taking things out of the oven. When we got out of the car, they had to keep their hand on the 'square' (the gas tank cover).

If you haven't read "How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen" by Faber and Mazlish, I'd recommend it. I think that your ds is about a year or two away from the ideas in that book really working, but that will give you time to work on the how to talk bit.

Lynnteapot2.GIF, academicreading.gif,geek.gif wife, WOHM  to T jog.gif(4/01) and M whistling.gif (5/04)
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#10 of 10 Old 08-07-2010, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
...

When my kids did what your son was doing, I removed them from the situation and sat down with them or walked around until they calmed down. My getting irritated because they were getting overexcited just wound them up more. BTDT. I had to learn to gently remove them for a few minutes.

Generally, less talk and more action works. ...
When I removed him from the situation while we were inside, he managed to get the basic idea down, and stopped the rude behavior (exchanged it for a different one, but still...). However, he was not able to completely calm down, he just wanted to go back out there so badly. It was clear that trying to keep him in the bedroom until he was completely calm would never work, b/c he'd just get more agitated.

When I removed him from the pool after the near-drowning attempt, it was even worse. Maybe b/c he could see the pool/all the action or b/c well, it's the POOL, for crying out loud. Either way, he could NOT take it down even a notch. It was like watching him go insane before my very eyes.

Yes, overstimulated is exactly the word for it. But how do you (gently) break that sheer desperation to continue on the path they were on? It was like something out of an old TV show or movie where a good hard slap in the face is the only cure for such hysteria. Of course, I'm NOT going to slap my kid to distract him from the frenzy, but what else to do? If I'd brought him inside so he wouldn't be looking at the pool, longing to go back in, he would have FREAKED, thinking we were done swimming altogether. And, as several PPs have noted, simply telling him that's not the case wouldn't gotten through any better than my attempts to tell him to calm down. So how do you break away from that mindset? I really didn't want him getting back in the water, but of course it was the only option I could think of that wouldn't exacerbate things. What else?
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